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Relief engineers pull out of violent Baghdad

RELIEF ENGINEERS are pulling out of Baghdad as the security situation deteriorates, said RedR international director Koen Versavel.

The impact of the non-governmental associations' engineering work in Iraq is also being hit as projects are looted as soon as they are completed.

'Replacement power cables are immediately stolen and sold across the border.

This makes some projects impossible at this stage, ' said Versavel.

Aid workers are increasingly at risk of attack as violence against Western civilians escalates, he said. 'Local communities expected living standards to improve quickly once Saddam was toppled. But things have got worse, fuelling the resistance, ' said Versavel.

'The security threat is much worse than people realise. Pockets of resistance remain and there is a genuine danger that a well organised guerilla war could drag on, ' he added.

'There is no way we can work in a situation like this.'

Versavel returned earlier this month from a six week mission to Iraq. He advised British forces on the civilian impact of their operations and was in Al Majar Al Kabir where six Royal Military Policeman were killed.

Aid workers who have left Baghdad have returned to British controlled Basra where security risks are lower.

Few are aware of the situation because media coverage has been restricted by US forces, confirmed Versavel.

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